Lack of interest, or short attention span?

Posted: February 15, 2010 in social networking, technology
Tags: , ,

It’s not our fault our generation has short attention spans, Dad. We watch an appalling amount of TV” – Lisa Simpson.

I was reading an article on MSNBC about the iPad, Google Buzz, 3D-tv, etc (link here) regarding the lack of interest in consumer electronics, which got me thinking, is it a lack of interest or do we suffer from really short attention spans partly due to the sheer number of new products and applications we see each and every day?

The lead up to the iPad launch was HUGE but the press about it stopped within a few days of the event. This will change once the product is in consumer’s sweaty little hands, but still, we’ve moved on already, and actually moved past the next few big announcements and products too. Are we just so hungry for news about the latest big thing we never really completely try out them all before poo-poo-ing them? So many people jumped on the Google Wave, and then after days, jumped off to the next big thing. Same thing happened this week with Google’s Buzz, big news for a day or so, but even at that, many of the respected reviewers had already passed judgement on it before the masses even had it enabled in their gmail. Sure, its nothing all that new or impressive and may be a bit of a “me-too” response from Google, but don’t dismiss them so fast, they are trying to do what so many of us want – a way to see all our stuff in one place without being logged into 4 of 5 social media apps/site/clients and monitoring a bunch of email addresses. I’m guilty of it, i am always searching for an app that will bring all the stuff together – ebuddy for iphone does it pretty well, but i still have 3 or 4 email addresses to check as well and if i was to group them all together into gmail, which is a great idea in theory it would max out the free allowed space on their server.

However thats not really the point i’m trying to make, i think we are suffering from information overload and are teaching our kids that its okay. In fact, we are encouraging them to play right along with it, constantly texting, even while gaming, while working, at school, etc. Its at a point now where we just expect everything immediately and get frustrated when things aren’t happening fast enough. All this contributes to the shortening of our attention spans. We live in a world where our lives are sometimes measured in 30 minutes intervals because of TV, and we try to communicate quickly and concisely 140 or 160 characters at a time, which is fine some of the time, but its seems we have forgotten how to tell a real story, or even chat using complete sentences and thoughts. Also, we are a society that has gotten used to having everything right now, right when we want it – not necessarily because we need it that fast, but no one wants to wait for anything. Can you imagine if we all had to step back about 15 years or so and deal with dial-up internet again? The civilized world would grind to a halt.

In this bloggers opinion, we should all slow down a little and really pay attention to the world around us. Not to blame anyone in particular, but the media plays a big part in all this, constantly barraging us with information in short snippets and then moving on to the next story/event.  As the Austrian critic and poet Karl Kraus said “ The mission of the press is to spread culture while destroying the attention span“.

Me, i’m going to strive to learn more about the issues and events and stories, whether tech-based or not, rather than just relying on the overviews of others. Its fine to read the headlines, but remember to delve into the fully story of the ones that interest you.  To put it simply, turn on the Discovery channel or History channel instead of just reading the CNN ticker-tape once in a while.


  1. […] Lack of interest, or short attention span? – I don’t really agree with this guy’s point (especially about the History Channel, which is now a non-historical cesspool almost 24 hours a day) but he does start it off with a great quote and he gets it dead on correct.  So, excellent usage.  […]


  2. Zasady Bingo says:

    I actually knew about most of this, but having said that, I still thought it was useful. Nice job!


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